After suffering a first-round loss to Ogallala in the Class B Area 7 junior legion tournament, the First National Bank North Platte Junior Nationals had a chance at a rematch, and the championship game, after battling back into contention against both Sidney teams at the tournament.
But Ogallala once again proved too much for the Nationals as their pitchers combined to strike out 11 batters and allow just one hit and no runs during their 6-0 victory Monday evening.
The Nationals allowed more than one run in an inning only once when Ogallala got out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning, but single-run innings in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth methodically put the game out of reach.
Daniel Wellnitz had the only Nationals hit.
Cobie Bila took the loss on the mound for Chadron, throwing 100 pitches in five innings while allowing seven hits and four earned runs. He struck out six batters and walked just two. Teammate Xander Provance threw 25 pitches in a single inning, allowing just one hit and walking two batters.
In addition to their pitching duties during the tournament, Bila and Provance were both significant contributors on offense. Bila went 7-for-13 overall at the plate with seven hits through four games and Provance had eight runs in the same time.
Neither was able to solve Ogallala’s defense on Monday.
The loss put an end to Chadron’s season, but not before they created some excitement earlier in the tournament.
After being sent to the bottom of the bracket by a 9-2 loss to Ogallala,Friday, and putting up a 16-1 win over Sidney Team Two on Saturday, the Nationals had their highlight of the tournament in a walk-off win against Sidney Team One on Sunday.
Tied 6-6 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, with a runner on third base, Dan Dunbar put the ball in play, scoring Eric Vahrenkamp for the win.
Vahrenkamp took over as the Nationals’ sole base runner for pitcher Shane Frye after he reached first base on a walk. Wellnitz then moved Vahrenkamp into scoring position at second with a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch during Dunbar’s at-bat moved him to third.
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The two teams were neck-and-neck through four innings with Chadron holding a 6-5 lead heading into the sixth. A single Sidney run in the top of the that inning tied the game 6-6.
Nationals’ pitcher Collin Brennan was given the win after pitching 3.1 innings. Brennan allowed five runs, two of them earned, on three hits. He struck out three batters and walked seven. Frye took over Brennan, pitching 3.2 innings while allowing just one run on one hit. He struck out four batters and walked one while maintaining a .625 strike-percentage.
Chadron’s offense was led by Bila and Provance who each had two runs. Bila went 3-for-4 at the plate while Provance was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Saturday, the Nationals’ offense put up eight runs in the second inning followed by five in the third and led 16-0 after four.
Sidney got on the board with a single run in the bottom of the fifth, but it wasn’t near enough to stop the game from ending early.
Frye began the game on the mound for the Nationals but was taken out after just two innings. Junior Nationals' Head Coach Jackson Dickerson said he wanted to keep Frye under 30 pitches so that he’d be eligible to throw against Sidney Team One on Sunday. Frye threw 24 pitches, struck out four batters and didn’t give up a hit or walk.
Teammate Zack Wordekemper came in for Fry and threw 47 pitches in three innings. He struck out six batters and allowed one run on one hit. He was given the win.
The Nationals had 12 hits, three from Bila and two each from Dunbar and Tony Sanchez. Eight players recorded a hit.
Though he was credited with just one hit in three at-bats, Provance found his way to the bases on all of his four plate appearances. He reached on two errors, was hit by a pitch, walked once, and had an RBI triple in the top of the third.
The Junior Nationals end their season 9-18-1.